Published: October 18, 2009
Republicans in the Fifth District are going to have plenty of choices when they pick a candidate for the 2010 race against Rep. Tom Perriello.
The Virginia General Assembly drew the Fifth District for a Republican, and the GOP has wanted the seat back ever since the State Board of Elections confirmed that Perriello had squeaked out a 727-vote win over Virgil Goode last fall.
The conventional wisdom is that Perriello’s win was a fluke, but John McCain and Sarah Palin won more votes in the Fifth District than Goode did. For that matter, Goode didn’t do as well as the Virginia marriage amendment in 2006.
So, Goode may have been slipping and no one noticed.
To Perriello’s credit, he has voted against the president’s first budget, come out against a new assault weapons ban, worked hard on veterans care issues and publicly declared that he would not vote for public funding of abortion in a health care reform bill — all stances that show is he far from the Nancy Pelosi lapdog that his harshest critics claim he is.
The Republicans who want to beat Perriello know he is a tough campaigner and that the political landscape may be completely different next year. No one can say how strong the economy will be or if Americans will like the final health care reform bill that emerges from Congress.
Robert Hurt, of Chatham, has jumped into this tumultuous political environment, recently announcing his intention to run for the Fifth District seat. For most of us, the 2010 election is a long way off. For the GOP, it’s right around the corner.
Hurt has solid conservative credentials and has sponsored common sense legislation in the General Assembly dealing with criminal justice issues. He is a smart, personable candidate and will no doubt work hard if he gets the nomination.
But Hurt has never had to run against anyone like Perriello. When Hurt speaks, he sometimes sounds more like a lawyer instead of a man who happens to practice law. His father Henry’s involvement with Virginia Uranium Inc. could backfire on him, as could his handling of his dog biting someone in Chatham.
That may sound trivial, but in politics, everything is fair game.
Just as Republicans are motivated to unseat Perriello, Democrats want to hold onto the Fifth District seat, so no matter who the GOP picks next year, expect a lot of out-of-town money and national attention on this race.
We don’t know what kind of candidate the GOP is looking for, so there is no way to know what chance Hurt has to win the nomination. If we thought the Republicans wanted a candidate from the Dan River Region, Hurt would probably be a shoe-in. But all we know for sure is both sides want to win, no matter what.